The MortiCage

Sorry, the instructions aren't quite finished yet. I will get around to it eventually, but you get the gist of it from what's here...

What's it all about

These are instructions for building your own cage, made from easy to find parts, easy to make, and quite cheap. Once the parts are made, it can be built up or taken apart in about 10 minutes, and could be stored in a cupboard or under a bed when not in use. Mortice

It's not the strongest of designs (perhaps more symbolic bondage than high security) but much cheaper and easier to make than using steel bars and a steel frame.

I've tried to make the instructions 'generic', in that it will fit around whatever parts you can find in your local shops (you'll need plumbing parts and gardening parts). In particular, I've not specified exact sizes of the parts you need, since if I did I expect your local shop wouldn't have the same sizes available - especially if you're not in the same country as me! It also gives you the choice of what size to make the cage, if your local shops have a range of sizes.

If you follow these instructions and put your own cage, please let me know how you got on, how much it cost you, whether any improvements could be made in design or instructions, etc. If you have any pictures, I'd like to see, and if you want I can add them to this page.

Click on any of the pictures on the right to get a close-up view.

What you will need

You will need to find the following: Mortice

Magic measurements

The key to getting all the measurements right for the parts of the cage is to know three key measurements, which I'll call X, Y and Z. The acutal values will depend on what you can find in your local store, which is why I'm not specifying exact sizes but using algebra instead. So the length of the bolts should be something like ¾ of Y.

How much of what will you need

When I made mine, I purchased 6*3 metre pipes (around 1 per metre), a 10 metre roll of 1 metre wide mesh (15) and 20mm size M4 (suitable for a 4mm hole) nuts and bolts (around 4) making a total of around 40.

I'd love to hear from anyone in USA who can let me know similar standard prices for these parts from Home Depot or wherever.

How to make it

  1. Cut the 12 lengths of pipe to length - they should be approximately the size specified above, but it's more important that they're all the same length, so keep comparing them with each other as you cut them. It's not necessary to cut the mesh to length yet.
  2. Pick up a length of pipe. You're going to drill three holes down then tube, at specific measurements and angles, called A, B and C. This is a fiddly bit of the process of making the cage, but once you've done it once, you get to do it exactly the same another 23 times and then you're nearly finished!
  3. Look at the end of a length of the tube, and imagine there's a compass on the end. Mark the North, South, East and West points on the the tube in pencil. Mortice
  4. The centre of hole A should be in the side of the pipe, at a distance ½*Y (half a pipe width) from the North mark.
  5. The centre of hole B should be at a distance Z+1½*Y (one and a half pipe widths and a nut width) from the West mark, ie 90 degrees around from hole A, and further along the tube.
  6. The centre of hole C should be at a distance of approximately 3*Y (three pipe widths) from the West mark, ie in line with hole B, and further along the tube. The distance is not critical. These holes are used to secure the mesh in place, so the ideal spacing would depend on the hole spacing of your mesh.
  7. Take a look at the picture on the right to clarify. Hole A is on the left, and holes B and C, 90 degrees around the tube (at the top) have screws coming out of them in the picture.
  8. At the other end of the tube, drill the same set of holes. Make sure that both hole A's line up, and all hole B's and C's are all in a line. It can be useful to look down the inside of the tube, to make sure the holes which should line up really do.
  9. Now would be a good time to paint the pipes, if you want to (I didn't). Poke a bolt through the holes to make sure they don't clog up with paint.
  10. Put a bolt into both hole B's and both hole C's, with the bolt head on the inside and the bolt shaft poking out. Secure them with a nut each.
  11. If you find the hole C bolts difficult to get in, then try taping the bolt to the end of a piece of bent metal, using that to guide the bolt into the hole, then pulling the metal to snap the tape. I found the blanking plate from the back of a PC (the metal you take out if you fit a new card into the PC) is ideal for this job (yet another great use for blanking plates!)
  12. Repeat the whole process for the other 11 lengths of pipe. Mortice
  13. The next step is to make a cube out of the 12 pipes. In doing this, you must remember only 2 rules:
    1. Hole B bolts go into hole A holes. The hole C bolts are not involved at this stage.
    2. When you consider which way round to put a pipe, the hole B bolts always point 'outwards', and the hole A holes point 'inwards'. This will be explained later. Mortice
  14. Choose a point on the floor, and imagine that this is the centre of the cage, where the occupant will be. A teddy-bear is ideal for this purpose.
  15. Lie one pipe alongside the teddy-bear, ½*X from it. Applying rule 2, turn it so the hole A is facing upwards (sort of towards the teddy-bear), and bolt B is facing away from the teddy-bear. Mortice
  16. Lie another pipe alongside the teddy-bear, so that the two pipes touch. Where they meet, you should put the bolt B of the 2nd pipe into hole A of the 1st pipe (obeying the rule 1), but make sure that the 2nd pipe obeys rule 2 by making sure hole A of the 2nd pipe points towards the teddy-bear. That should make the end of the 2nd pipe lie on top of the 1st pipe.
  17. This is the clever bit. Put the 3rd pipe so that it's vertical, and its bolt B into hole A of the 2nd pipe, and (as long as you obeyed rule 2) you should find hole A of the 3rd pipe sitting next to bolt B of the 1st pipe. Push those two together, and you have a corner. Mortice
  18. Continue in the same way. Put a 4th pipe down on the floor, connecting to one of the others to obey rule 1, but turned around so as to obey rule 2. Put a 5th pipe vertical to make another corner, and carry on with the next pipe, and so on.
  19. Eventually you should have all 12 pipes interlocked as a cube. You may find the last set of bolts difficult to get into their holes - if necessary you can remove a bolt before putting the pipe in place, but you may then find it difficult to get back in once the pipes are together. This process sounds complicated, but it will be second nature by the time you've got the cube together. Mortice
  20. Put a nut onto each of the 24 B bolts, to secure the pipes together at the corners.
  21. Take the roll of mesh, and put the two C bolts of one of the pipes through holes in the mesh, so the mesh is draping over the cage.
  22. Rotate the whole cage, so the mesh is wrapped over 4 faces. Each time the mesh passes over a pair of C bolts, make sure the bolts hook through the mesh. Once you get back to the start, so you've covered all 4 faces, cut the mesh off. Mortice
  23. Now you need to select one of the faces to be the floor. If you put one of the faces on the floor, you may find the mesh not quite in contact with the floor - if this is the case, turn the cage until the mesh is flat on the floor.
  24. One of the open faces will become the door. The idea of the door is that it's made of two halves of mesh, joined with padlocks. Wrap the mesh around... Mortice Mortice Mortice